For rookie Hassani Dotson, Minnesota United’s 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night was all about composure. Dotson, 21, made his first MLS start in the Loons’ strong defensive performance.
During the game, it came down to his ability to cope with Houston’s shifting cadre of talented attackers. “I thought, for his debut, playing in an unfamiliar position, against whoever came down his side — it was [Romell] Quioto, it was [Memo] Rodriguez — I thought he was outstanding,” said manager Adrian Heath of Dotson’s performance. “The kid did everything that we asked of him.”
Dotson, drafted in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft as a midfielder out of Oregon State University, played at left back, a position he got a taste of during his 90-minute shift against Hertha Berlin in an international friendly on Wednesday. “It’s a little adjustment, but it helps that I played there in the preseason, and also I played a couple stints at left back and right back my freshman year of college,” Dotson explained after the game.
Of course, there were some pregame nerves, something Dotson received a little help with. “Honestly it was everyone, everyone had a moment with me telling me good luck, kill it, don’t think too much, play your game you know how to play,” he said. “It wasn’t just one individual. It really means a lot that they care about me.”
“I just want to thank the coaching staff and the athletic training staff for helping me get through this. They’ve been really supportive the whole time. They try to make sure I don’t have so many nerves before the game,” Dotson said.
Paired with Miguel Ibarra on the left side of Minnesota’s formation, the more experienced player had a few final words for Dotson before the game began. That happened to be a famous line from Remember the Titans: “Left side, strong side.”
Dotson also displayed his composure in the locker room after the game.
Faced with a full-sized media scrum in front of his locker, Dotson’s teammates decided to give him some special treatment. Brent Kallman, the bluetooth-speaker DJ of the night, cranked up the music. Ethan Finlay joined the throng of reporters, holding his phone’s flashlight above the group. Vito Mannone tried, to no avail, to draw a reaction by standing in the group with a towel on his head.
DMB at RB
Saturday’s match was Houston fullback DaMarcus Beasley’s first since announcing that he would retire at the end of the season this week. Beasley, 37, has appeared for the United States Men’s National Team 126 times and played for clubs as varied as Rangers, Hannover 96 and Puebla.
Beasley started for the Dynamo at left back, coming off an injury but still playing 90 minutes. During pregame warmups, the Allianz Field PA announcer gave Beasley a shoutout for his career achievements and the defender received applause from the crowd.
Winger Ethan Finlay, who primarily attacked Beasley’s side of the pitch, enjoyed playing against him.
“You know, it was great. I was happy to see him out there,” Finlay said. “I know he was coming off an injury, but he won two headers over me there in the first half and I said, ‘Damn man, you’ve still got it, still got the hops’. What a tremendous career he’s had and just to still be doing it at his age and at this level is a testament to his professionalism. It was great to be out there against him and I’m sure we’ll see him later down the road.”
Can’t Steal the Second
What appeared to be a cross from Romain Metanire found its way into the back of the net once again, but this time, Metanire received credit for the goal.
“Well, he said he meant it,” laughed Heath. “He’s obviously pleased. Maybe, maybe they’ll give it to him after the one that Angelo [Rodriguez] claimed a few weeks ago.”
“It’s news to me that they credited it to him,” joked Finlay.
Metanire earned a yellow card in the 90th minute of the game for a hard foul. The caution was his fifth of the season, meaning he picks up an automatic one-match suspension. He’ll miss United’s midweek match at Atlanta United.
“I thought actually it was a cheap yellow card with some of the tackles that went on today that didn’t get a yellow card, but hey, it is what it is,” said Heath. “At this stage of the season when you’re a defender, the chances are that you’re going to be in and around them sort of numbers [of yellow cards accumulated].”
“He will be missed on Wednesday with the yellow card, which I thought was a bit of an unfortunate decision,” said Metanire’s fellow right-sided player, Finlay. “But it might be a good time for him to get a little bit of rest and come back to us for the second half of the year.”
Metanire’s international duties with Madagascar are expected to keep him away from United for the three MLS matches following his suspension as well.
Announced attendance was 19,701 ... Saturday’s game was United’s fifth clean sheet of the season, tying their club record total from the 2017 season ... Darwin Quintero has now played nearly 370 minutes without scoring and still has only one goal from open play ... Minnesota visits expansion rivals Atlanta United on Wednesday ... Atlanta lost 2-1 to Real Salt Lake on Friday and sit 5th in the Eastern Conference on 20 points (one fewer than the Loons)